Damian Lillard to Blazers Teammates About Game 5 vs. Nuggets: 'This Is the One'

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIMay 31, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard passes during an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Portland Trail Blazer star Damian Lillard has a good feeling about Tuesday's game against the Denver Nuggets. 

Heading into Game 5 with the series tied 2-2, Lillard has been spreading the message to his teammates that this upcoming game won't be anything like the time the two teams met in the postseason in 2019, when the Nuggets earned a blowout win to take a 3-2 lead in the series after Game 5 (the Trail Blazers came back to win the series in seven games).

"This is the one," Lillard has been telling teammates, per Jason Quick of The Athletic. "This is the game right here."

Lillard has reportedly been spreading the message to teammates including Carmelo Anthony, C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. His minimal messaging is similar to what he's shared with teammates in big moments in the past—including in that Game 5 in 2019. 

After Portland won a decisive Game 1, 123-109, Denver rallied to blow out Portland 128-109 in Game 2. Game 3 saw a closer margin of victory for Denver, which earned a 120-115 win before Portland asserted its dominance in Game 4. 

Per Quick, Lillard's intentions are in the right place. When there's a 2-2 series tie, the team that wins Game 5 has won the series 83 percent of the time.

"We can’t relax," Lillard said. "We can’t come out and think that it will just happen. We have to make it happen. We have to go take the game. And that means adversity might hit. They might come out and make their first seven shots. Or they might get hot from 3. But we have to weather the storm, keep our composure, stay together, stay focused and keep grinding." 

Game 5 is scheduled for Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.